Guidance about deaths referred to the coroner
In certain circumstances a death is referred to the coroner for further investigation.
When a sudden death occurs
When a sudden or unexpected death occurs, the coroner must establish the medical cause of death.
The deceased's doctor will be asked whether the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death can be issued by them. If not, the cause of death must be established through a Coroner's Post Mortem Examination.
A post mortem is a medical examination of the deceased carried out for the coroner by a pathologist at a local hospital. During this time the deceased is under the coroner's jurisdiction and will remain so until the coroner releases the body. This is when the funeral arrangements can be made.
Removal of the deceased to a hospital mortuary
The council is responsible for providing the coroner service in Buckinghamshire. We have an approved list of suitably qualified and equipped funeral directors. They act for the coroner to remove the deceased from the place of death to the hospital mortuary.
You may use the firm that provides this service to arrange the funeral. You are free to choose another if you prefer.
The firm carrying out the removal is permitted to leave a business card, however, they're not allowed to sell themselves in any other way to you.
After the post mortem
Once the medical cause of death has been established the funeral can take place.
If the death is found to be due to natural causes, the body will be released immediately after the post mortem. The Coroner's Officer will then let you know so that the funeral arrangements can be made.
If the death is not due to natural causes, an inquest will be necessary. The Coroner’s Officer will give you further details about what will happen next.
Who can register a death
See our information about how to register a death.
Registering a death after the post mortem where no inquest is held
The coroner will send a form to the register office giving details of the cause of death.
To register the death you will need to make an appointment to see a Registrar. You can make an appointment by telephone:
Aylesbury and North Bucks area
Telephone: 01296 382 581
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Wycombe and South Bucks area
Telephone: 01494 475 000
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4:30pm
Registering a death after an inquest
The coroner will arrange for the death to be registered, normally within a few days of the inquest. There is no need for you to go to the register office. Copy certificates can be purchased from the register office via:
- an application form
- over the telephone with a debit or credit card
Contact the Coroner's Officers if you have any queries or concerns about the:
- arrangements for a post mortem
- the release of the body of the deceased
- any other part of the process
Telephone: 01494 475 505 during office hours, Monday to Friday.
Requesting copy documents
You can order copies of:
- post mortem reports
- archived files
- a disk recording of an inquest hearing for a death
Who can order documents
You can order copy documents if:
- the death occurred in Buckinghamshire or was dealt with by the Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Office
- you're an 'interested person' or a 'proper person' in the case (see our glossary)
How to order
Use our online service to order copy documents.
Allow three working weeks to process your request.
An interested person
An 'interested person' is:
- parent, spouse, civil partner, partner, grandparent, grandchild, child of a brother or sister, stepfather, stepmother and half-brother or half- sister
- any personal representative, any beneficiary under a policy on the life of the deceased or the insurer who issued the policy
- any person or organisation whose act or omission, or that of his servant or agent, may have caused or contributed to the death
- trade union representative (if the death is by injury in the course of employment or from an industrial disease)
- the representative of an enforcing authority or government department, a chief constable and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (in certain cases only)
- some other person or organisation who, during the investigation, in the opinion of the senior coroner had sufficient interest
A proper person
If you do not believe you're an 'interested person', you may apply to the senior coroner to be considered a proper person. You'll then be entitled to have possession of a particular document or record.
It will be at the senior coroner’s discretion, on a case-by-case basis, whether your application will be accepted.
The Ministry of Justice has published a guide to coroner services.